Update: Critter Watch

The update is…there is no update. Sigh.

It’s snowing outside. That’s new. Maybe my guest from the other night is out practicing his sledding. Hope so. In the meantime, I’ll be here waiting to see if he decides to stop by for another visit – and watching the snow. Ahh, snow. If only its existence didn’t depend on it being freezing cold at the same time, its popularity would increase exponentially amongst those of us who live in climates where it shows up oh so frequently.

Gotta admit, I’ll take snow over the critter any day though. It could snow for the next month straight and I’d take that over this thing popping in and hanging out in my attic again. Of course I should probably be careful what I wish for with the white stuff…as soon as I say that we’ll end up being marooned in a blizzard around here ūüôā

Ah well. Time to think of warm weather, maybe a beach, and a lack of things running around above me. And…go.


An Unwanted Guest

Well, this was inevitable. When you live in a 100+ year old house with an attic you’re bound to have one of these pay a visit at some point. That ‘some point’ came last night, as I was attempting to unwind on the couch.

It goes without saying that the sound of scratching on the ceiling isn’t exactly what you want to hear when the sound of silence is what you are¬†hoping for.¬†Slightly¬†unsettling to say the least ūüôā¬†I went through the initial brainstorming of ‘What the heck is that?’¬†before¬†making the¬†ugly realization that something was up there, enjoying an evening above me. Raccoon, possum, squirrel…or worse. Who knows.

As you might imagine¬†the first call this morning was of a request to get whatever the heck it might be out of there. I love having guests over but I prefer them to be human. Sorry critter, it isn’t personal.

So the guy came over a few hours later – with what looked like a dog kennel of some sort. I’m like, ‘What the heck is he here to catch? Isn’t deer hunting season over?’ Anyway, he took the thing up to the attic…along with a granola bar, which is apparently the snack of choice for critters. A few minutes of rumbling around later and he was¬†done setting the trap.

It’s not going to hurt the little guy. Just a quick shutting door and this thing will¬†be in much small quarters than¬†it’s used to, that’s all. Nice to know there won’t be a carcass in my attic. But I was told that I will likely not only hear the metal door clang shut whenever my guest goes for his complimentary treat, but I will also then hear this thing scampering back and forth inside the trap (uninjured but obviously upset and certainly frazzled)¬†trying to get out. Great.

The guy is coming back in a few days to check back on the situation up there. My only hope now is that the thing either A) doesn’t come back, or B) gets shut in there while I am not around and then decides to take a long winter’s nap until the guy comes back to take him back to his permanent address in the woods. Something tells me it will be option C) a loud bang and then repeated scampering back and forth until I lose all peace of mind I have living here. Ah well ūüôā No complaints, it’s part of life.

Another interesting note with this,¬†the guy did mention that if it’s a raccoon he’s going to take it home and eat it. I’m not kidding. I don’t know what to think about that. Sheesh. I guess it is his trap. Do what you’ve gotta do buddy…just don’t use my grill, ok? Thanks.

Note to critter: I have nothing against you¬†but¬†there is a permanent ‘No Vacancy’ policy in my attic…and furthermore¬†I really don’t want you to be someone’s dinner, so maybe find somewhere else to hang out. I think that would be best. For you and for me. Good luck to you, whatever you are.

To Shop or Not to Shop?

So, another Black Friday has come and well, mostly gone. (It’s 6:30 pm as I type this…I suppose there’s still time to get out there tonight and sift through the remains of your favorite retail spot.) Every year the lure of a better TV, a wish list request from the kids, or that ‘gotta have it’ deal brings the masses out – often in incredibly cold temperatures – to the stores. It is an annual tradition.

The definition of ‘gotta have it’ varies of course. In the end it’s really¬†the question of ‘What is this worth?’ that we’re forced to ask¬†before subjecting ourselves to the certain chaos, guaranteed gridlock, and migraine-inducing madness that is the Friday after Thanksgiving in shopping centers everywhere.

There are two basic sides¬†when it comes to¬†this event. The ‘Yeah there are some really good deals, I’m going to go for it’ side and conversely the ‘What on Earth could possibly possess people to DO this to themselves?’ side.

It’s easy to take the latter side. I mean really, why in the world would someone of sound mind get up, get dressed, and set out into the frigid night several hours before sunrise to wait in long lines for anything short of¬†the Second Coming,¬† tickets to a Beatles concert back in the day, or possibly a seat at the Super Bowl? The tents outside of Best Buy, set up the night¬†*before* the actual event. The stampedes that take place outside of stores when the doors are opened. The fighting for items once people are inside. The eternal wait in line to check out. Oh…and the chance that¬†you won’t even get what you put yourself through all of this to try and get.

I am pretty sure I would go berserk if that happened. All that time and effort and frozen extremities…for nothing? Ayiee. I feel like telling that to the people waiting in the back of these long lines.¬†I mean honestly, what¬†is the rationale here? There probably aren’t going to be 250 of whatever it is you’re looking for in the store ūüėȬ†In the end I just have to believe¬†the folks in the back of the line¬†are just¬†there for ‘the experience’¬†and this¬†makes me feel¬†a¬†little¬†better…I think. Does anyone sell food or drinks at these things by the way? That seems like a good gig. But I digress.

All of that being said, let’s take a look at the other side. Are you a parent? Grandparent? Caregiver? Responsible for a child in any way? If you’re not, well, hopefully you¬†got a good night’s sleep last night. Those of you who are and who did wake up early, stand in line, and subject yourself to everything I described above…I completely understand why you did. Black Friday sales and promotions are often lifesavers for parents who want to get their child that one special gift they really want. Doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or inexpensive either. If that’s your best chance to get¬†that¬†special item or¬†items¬†for your child, my hat’s off to you for braving the madness. You’re a better person than me, because…

…I must confess that after putting the kids to bed at my parents’ house last night, I set out toward the golden glow of Toys ‘R Us in hopes of picking up a certain item for the boys¬†that had caught my eye while browsing the ads that morning.¬†Needless to say it was beyond packed when I got there. The line wrapped around the front of the building, down the side of it, and all the way around the back of it.

Umm, so I never got out of the car and was back home to share the story with my folks by the time the store was supposed to open. I love my children. I’d like the record to show that I gave it a shot. It’s going to have to be something else for them from me this year though –¬†somehow that will have to¬†be¬†ok.

So, I hope you all found what you were looking for today…and furthermore I hope you all find peace and happiness this holiday season. As for me, there’s always Cyber Monday ūüôā

To Scan or Not to Scan?

Decorating For Dax – A Year Later

Our Christmas decorations are up. Sure it’s a little early – and for me, it’s much earlier than I used to put them up in the past. That all changed last year…

It is hard to believe a year has passed since little Dax Locke’s story spread throughout the Peoria area and subsequently across the nation. It is equally hard to believe that nearly a year has gone by since¬†Dax departed this Earth after just less than three short years of being here.

Friends, I will admit his story impacted me like few other things ever have in my life. I never met Dax. I’ve never met his parents. But the story of his inspirational battle with leukemia, his family’s efforts to keep him comfortable and happy during his final months,¬†and the incredible amount of support shown by his home community, the entire Peoria area, and literally¬†the entire country¬†really got to me. Still does.

CNN Dax Story

It started small. Folks in the town of Washington decided to decorate for Christmas early last year because the doctors said Dax might not make it until Christmas Day. The added meaning¬†behind this was that he really loved¬†Christmas¬†lights and decorations. Lights were up on people’s houses¬†before Trick or Treaters walked the streets in that town…and it was an amazing sight to see.

But it wasn’t just in Washington. I¬†was reading an article in the Peoria Journal Star one day and it mentioned the website where families could send photos of their Christmas decorations, and Dax’s parents would then show those to him every night in an effort to keep him smiling through his pain. They were encouraging people to do this because Dax literally only had weeks left to live and this was potentially all the Christmas he might get.

That was it for me. I pretty much lost it right there at my desk. On the verge of¬†that happening again as¬†I type this. The thought of this child (or any child)¬†having just weeks or even days to live just made me instantly appreciate so many different things in my life. It really made me believe in cherishing every single moment that comes your way; a sentiment passed along by the Locke’s while they were spending their final days with their son. I can’t imagine what I would do if anything happened to my children. I love them so much.¬†I’m crazy about my kids and¬†I am so thankful for the times I have with them.

My heart hurts for the Locke’s and the countless number of parents (several of whom I know personally)¬†living with the loss of a child. I offer you my prayers and thoughts here today and a hug from afar. I know they are up in Heaven, looking down on you with love. God has different plans for all of us. It sure as heck doesn’t always make sense and believe me, I can attest to this. But He has plans. He knows what He’s doing.¬†I truly believe that.

My sons really became attached to the Dax story last year.  It made me smile when they said they wanted to put up their little tree early after hearing the story about him. From that day on they would pray for him, ask about him, talk about him. We sent him a photo after the kids put up their tree. It was almost like he was part of the family. The day he passed away, it felt like a family member passed away. Telling my children about his passing was like telling them that a family member had passed away.

I will just say Dax that your life on Earth, while short, was meaningful beyond words. In addition to instilling a renewed sense of community in people you provided a true sense of hope and¬†meaning to countless people’s lives. For me, your story taught me to never, ever take a day for granted. I haven’t¬†since and I don’t¬†plan to¬†again.

Life is precious, friends. Make the most of it. Go hug someone. Call up an old friend. Tell someone you love them. End a fight.¬†Forgive someone. Go outside and breathe the the fresh air.¬†Do something you’ve been putting off doing. Make a difference. Follow your dreams. Smile, laugh, cry. Live.

God bless you, Dax. Rest in peace.

…and thank you God for using¬†this little boy’s¬†story to inspire so many.


UPDATE: Watch Dax’s movie, The Heart of Christmas!


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